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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Sheriff: Sex Offenders Pose Difficult Problems

Issue Date: July 26, 2017

"The bottom line is, we're a government of laws and a lawful process is being followed," Marinette County Sheriff Jerry Sauve commented recently in regard to Wisconsin Department of Health efforts to place serious sex offenders on supervised release in a home in a rural residential area of the Town of Pound with 18 children living nearby, and one family living across the road. "I didn't ask for this. I don't like it, but our role is to keep the public informed and keep the peace," Sauve added.

Sauve's remarks came as part of his report at the quarterly meeting of Marinette County's Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee on Friday, July 21. He termed the sex offender placements an "arduous and difficult problem."

The placements he referred to are for men who have been ruled dangerous sex offenders. They are scheduled for supervised release after serving prison terms and spending years in the state mental hospital at Mauston. For the first year on supervised release they will wear bracelets and will not be allowed to go outside of the residence without supervision.

A residence on Seventh Road in the Town of Pound has been purchased by an unnamed vendor as a potential home for sex offenders on supervised release, and the state Department of Health had proposed placing two men there, Jerome C. Leitscher and Jeffrey Butler, upon their release from the state mental hospital at Mauston. Neither has ever lived in Marinette County. The state reportedly is to pay the vendor $1,000 per month rent for the home, which is in a rural residential area of the Town of Pound with 18 children living nearby.

Sauve's office is charged with ascertaining that any proposed violent sex offender residence meets the letter of the law, which includes being at least 1,500 feet from schools, churches, parks, etc., where children regularly gather, and from residences of small children, but only if the properties are adjacent.

Sauve noted Channel 2 TV News earlier in the week featured a report on the controversial sex offender placements that have created an outpouring of opposition in the Town of Pound and much of Marinette County.

A continued hearing for placement of Butler, now 63, formerly of Iron Mountain, Mich., was scheduled before Judge James A. Morrison in Marinette County Circuit Court Branch 2 on Wednesday, July 25.

Butler, who lived in Iron Mountain, Mich., at the time of his arrest on May 16, 1995, was convicted of improper sexual behavior involving a boy he had been baby sitting for in Niagara. He had been charged with three Felony B counts of 1st degree sexual assault of a child, and one misdemeanor charge of exposing genitals to a child.

Oconto County Judge Michael Judge on June 26 in Oconto County Circuit Court had ordered Outagamie County to find a place for Leitscher, who had been an Outagamie County resident at the time of his offenses, but was arrested in Oconto County. Attorneys for Leitscher had asked that he be placed in Outagamie County, where he has family connections.

According to a 1989 news article in the Los Angeles Times sex offender archives, Leitscher, then 46, had recruited a 13-year old boy to assist him with a Cub Scout pack. He was sentenced to eight years in prison for sexually assaulting the boy after Cub Scout meetings for a one-year period in 1988 and 1989. The assaults took place at Leitscher's apartment in Appleton and at a cottage in Oconto County. Separate charges involving 16 and 17 year old boys were dismissed but read into the record. Leitscher served his time in prison and then at the state mental hospital in Mauston.

On Friday, June 23, a third offender was brought into the picture for placement in Marinette County. Outagamie Circuit Court Judge Michael W. Gage gave the Town of Pound and Marinette County 60 days (until Aug. 31) to find other prospective residential options for Aristole Farmer, 51, or accept his placement in the Seventh Road residence. Judge Gage noted that the Department of Health Services in Outagamie County had not identified a placement for Farmer there since the request was made by the state Department of Health on Oct. 27, 2015.

The TV news report said Farmer, who lived in Kimberly at the time of his offense, was convicted of raping a woman with developmental disabilities in a Salvation Army bathroom in Appleton and court documents state he is a high risk repeat offender.

"I've been asked by the Department of Health to locate places these individuals could live," Marinette County Health and Human Services Director Robin Elsner confirmed after Sauve's comments at Friday's Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee meeting. "This is an issue all across the state".We all need to be aware if a sex offender moves into the neighborhood."

To date, Elsner's office has not publicly identified any potential residences in Marinette County for sex offenders on supervised release.

He said there will be more placements coming up, but if the proposed new state law is approved offenders will be released to a residence in the county where they resided prior to their convictions.

A new state law that has been approved as part of the state budget bill moves housing decisions for sex offenders out of the hands of the state Department of Health and assigns that responsibility to a board that is to be created within each county. The board will consist of a member or designee from the County Human Services Agency, the State Department of Health Services, local Probation and Parole, County Corporation Counsel, and County Land and Resource Management. That board will need to locate a housing placement in their county within a specified time frame or pay a daily fine to the State Department of Health.

When the budget bill passes, the new sex offender placement rules will go into effect. Whether or not that will affect Judge Gage's order for Marinette County to accept Farmer is uncertain, Sauve commented.

Sauve expressed similar sentiments after a special meeting of Marinette County Board's Law Enforcement Committee on Tuesday, July 25. He said he had attended the hearing in Outagamie County because he felt he had to, and had made his presence there known to Judge Gage.

"We may or may not like a law, but we have to live by it," Sauve declared. "I did not ask for this. I have to look at what's incumbent on me and I have to fulfill my responsibilities."

He said those responsibilities include "informing the public as to who is coming here and what they're all about"and asking the public to cooperate and keep the peace."

"I didn't ask for this," he repeated. "We have to follow the legal process. That means keeping the community safe"and that includes the offender."




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